When a Mental Illness Diagnosis Hurts Instead of Helps


For many people, mental illness is a daily challenge. Mental illness can be something that interferes with a person’s friendships, work, personal well-being, among many other things that affect quality of life. The daily challenges mental illness can pose are often made worse by the diagnosis a person receives. This can happen because of the stigma of a diagnosis. For many people, accepting a diagnosis of mental illness is a shaming experience.

Think for a second, if you learned someone you know has schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety or depression. Would this change how you view that person? People who receive a mental illness diagnosis may worry their friends, family and coworkers will view them differently. As if before the diagnosis they were viewed one way, but after receiving a diagnosis, they are viewed differently — often for the worse. Before a diagnosis, they may have been a person who struggled from time to time. But after a diagnosis, things seem to change and they are viewed only as “mentally ill.”

It’s a profound difference.

A diagnosis is a label. It’s an observation of certain behaviors and thought patterns that have been given a name. That’s it. But for some reason, that label holds so much power.

If you or someone you know are coping with mental illness, please know a diagnosis holds no power, that you are the same person you were before and the diagnosis just means maybe you can help yourself a little better now. Please know a diagnosis doesn’t define you and it never will.

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Thinkstock photo via Victor Tongdee.


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